Anonymity on the internet continues to be a thing of the past after a Cleveland cop was exposed as most likely being the same person leaving hate-filled comments to a writer of Cop Block then following it up with a hate-filled email.
While the comments are not threatening, therefore not illegal, they can easily become grounds for termination under the conduct unbecoming of an officer policy, which is enforced every once in a while.
Especially if it is determined that Cleveland police officer Luis M. Rivera made those comments while on duty.
Davy Vara, the recipient of the comments, has already been in contact with the Cleveland Police Department, who confirmed that Rivera works the graveyard shift from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The initial comment regarding the suicide of Vara’s father was left at 1:12 a.m.
The woman who took Vara’s call today recommended he call Rivera’s commander as well as Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath on Monday, which Vara plans to do.
It started on November 14 when a commenter named BuckNut left a comment on an article Vara wrote on Cop Block stating the following:
Vara, whose father killed himself in 1993, has frequently posted that his heart has never healed from the suicide and that it is the driving force behind his activism as he explains on his blog today.
The comment wasn’t too hard to trace. All it took was plugging in the commenter’s email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, into Facebook’s search engine, which lead to a man named Luis M. Rivera, who describes himself as a “Garbage Collector” for the City of Cleveland, a man with a plethora of friends who happen to be police officers.
And a quick search on his IP address, 18.104.22.168, was traced to “City of Cleveland Municipal Courts.”
Once Vara found Rivera’s Facebook page, he sent him a message in Spanish stating, “eres un cabron,” which is essentially calling him an asshole even though the word translates to goat.
Within minutes, Vara received an email from somebody using an anonymous proxy server stating the following:
The First Amendment protects us all, including police officers, but it does not protect us from being exposed for making anonymous offensive comments on the internet.
In 2009, an Indiana State Trooper named Chris Pestow was forced to resign after making questionable posts on Facebook while on duty.
Like Rivera, Pestow also described himself as a “garbage man” on Facebook, stating that “I pick up trash for a living.”
I messaged Rivera on Facebook for comment but he has not responded.
In August, a former Mississippi cop filed a lawsuit after she was fired for criticizing her town’s mayor on Facebook for not sending a representative to the funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty, claiming that her First Amendment rights were violated.
But Susan Graziosi’s comments were not nearly as offensive as the comments allegedly left by Rivera as you can read below. At least to the average citizen.
“Dear Mayor,” Graziosi wrote on her Facebook page, according to the lawsuit, “can we please get a leader that understands that a department sends officers (to) the funeral of an officer killed in the line of duty?”
Police officers are not the only ones who have lost jobs over their postings on Facebook. Last week, a California woman lost her job after posting on Facebook that President Barack Obama should be assassinated.
But in the above three cases, the comments were not even made anonymously.
Anonymous commenters, as we know, tend to be much more vicious. But they also leave the commenter with much more to risk as Redditor Violentacrez learned last month.
For the record, I will not expose any anonymous commenters, including police officers, who leave comments on this blog unless they are threatening or completely pass the line and that will always be a judgment call.
But I also ask that my readers remain civil and respectful, even if we disagree. And we do actually do that, especially compared to other news sites.
The best thing to do as I’ve always emphasized is to not say anything online you wouldn’t say in person.
But judging by Rivera’s comments to Vara and his description of his job, you can only imagine how he treats citizens in real life.
Update: Rivera has since confirmed he is BuckNut but insists he did not send that email to Vara and is now threatening to file a lawsuit, which is the cyber equivalent of thumping one’s chest, considering a lawyer would have to be as dumb as he is to actually waste his time with a suit like that.
This is what he wrote on Cop Block: